Ecuador Pledges Continued Asylum To WikiLeaks Founder Assange In London Embassy

Ecuador will continue to provide political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in its Embassy in London, where he has been holed up for the past one year.

Protection to the Australian whistle-blower was pledged by Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino after talks with his British counterpart William Hague in London on Monday.

Assange, who stunned the world by publishing a series of classified U.S. military documents and diplomatic cables, took asylum at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London on June 19 last year.

Responding to a Swedish request, Assange was arrested by the London Metropolitan Police in December, 2010 on a European arrest warrant on alleged sex crimes. He has been under house arrest until he sought asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy in a dramatic move.

Assange denies allegations of rape and sexual assault, made by two Swedish women who had served WikiLeaks as volunteers, saying that the sex was consensual.

Assange fears he will be extradited to the United States once Britain hands over him to Sweden. The lawyer of the founder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks expressed concern that his client could be extradited to the U.S. on separate charges relating to publishing secret U.S. diplomatic cables, for which he could face the death penalty there.

But Washington says the whistle-blower was not going to face persecution in the United States, and that the issue with the Government of the United Kingdom is "whether he's going to face justice in Sweden for something that has nothing to do with WikiLeaks."

The British police are stationed outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in central London in a bid to arrest Assange if he walked out of the Embassy, where he enjoys immunity.

Britain's Foreign Office said Patino held talks with Foreign Secretary Hague seeking a diplomatic solution to the stalemate, but there were no breakthrough, other than both agreeing to establish a working group to keep channels of communication open.

Patino, who met with Assange in the Embassy on Sunday, said the asylum-seeker was prepared to stay inside the Embassy for five years, despite the limitations there.

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